With the NFL Draft just about one month away, UCLA has a handful of former Bruin stand-outs who are looking to make it to the next level and play on Sundays, and we take a quick look at how their prospects are shaping up in the final run-up to the big draft weekend.
Beginning with the biggest star on the board, former UCLA OLB Anthony Barr, the All-American stand-out is projected to go in the top 15 picks, with some projections having him as high as seventh. Rant Sports put together a draft profile of the athletic freak of nature. The Detroit News has Barr going at the #10 spot to the Lions, which would a need for the Detroit squad looking to sneak ahead of Green Bay. Reportedly, the Lions have spent a lot of time scouting out the hybrid rush-DE/OLB type players, but it wouldn't be a shock if Detroit moved up to spend a top-5 pick on (of course) a WR. Meanwhile, CBS Sports' latest mock draft has Barr falling to the Tennessee Titans, where he'd be a perfect addition to their new 3-4 defensive scheme (plus he'd join fellow UCLA athletic freak of nature OLB Akeem Ayers in the linebacker corps in Nashville).
The other big prospect coming out of Westwood is the X-Man, OG Xavier Su'a-Filo, who is considered the top offensive guard in the entire draft:
1. Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA: Put simply, as far as I’m concerned, the 2014 draft class at guard consists of Su’a-Filo and a few tiers of Everybody Else. There’s nobody else who possesses his combination of root strength, understanding of technique and agility to the second level. He has the versatility to play left tackle — which he did for the Bruins at times — but at his heart, Su’a-Filo has the nasty streak you like in an elite guard. Basically, he’s an ass-kicker, and he’s proud of that.
"Honestly, I don’t watch a whole lot of guys who kind of remind me of me," Su’a-Filo said at the scouting combine. "I watch a lot of the guys I try to pattern my game after. I watch a lot of Logan Mankins, left guard from the New England Patriots. I think Logan, he was a high draft pick, but he’s physical. He’s a bad-ass, he started from Day 1 in New England, and I love how nasty he is, something about his game that I really try to implement."
It all adds up to a guy who should hear his name called in the first 20 picks, and the most exciting guard prospect I’ve seen since Stanford’s David DeCastro.
Some mock drafts have him in the middle of the first round but most mock drafts have him looking likely to get snagged by the Denver Broncos at the end of the first round, where he'd join up with fellow former Bruin Rahim Moore. Other outlets have him pegged as someone on the Patriots' watch list, where'd he'd slot in at RG opposite Logan Mankins, the player he is most similar to in most projections. Overall, look for XSF to come off the board by the end of the first round.
Former UCLA WR Shaq Evans hasn't received nearly the same kind of love from NFL draft analysts as his more highly-rated former teammates, but he's attracting some NFL attention, having recently worked out for the Atlanta Falcons, along with fellow Bruin OLB Jordan Zumwalt, per Tony Pauline of Draft Insider. Speaking of Jordan Zumwalt, other draft projections have him going in the middle of the fourth round, likely to the New York Giants who are in need of some LB help.
Lastly, the only other Bruin getting some decent NFL Draft consideration is former UCLA DE Cassius Marsh, who might be interesting Eagles' head coach Chip Kelly, who could slot the former DE into a OLB slot in the Eagles' defense, who might go anywhere from the middle round to the last round.
Alright folks, that covers it for your Bruins looking to get picked up in this year's NFL Draft. Fire away in the comment thread on where you think our former stars are likely to go, which teams would be the best fits for them, and/or where you'd like to see them end up, or throw in any other draft tidbits you have. Let's keep our fingers crossed for these guys.